The Ashland Independent Film Festival is pulling out all the stops for its 10th year with a roster of 84 independent documentaries, features and shorts created by regional and national filmmakers.

The Ashland Independent Film Festival is pulling out all the stops for its 10th year with a roster of 84 independent documentaries, features and shorts created by regional and national filmmakers.

"This festival feels different because it's a milestone," says Tom Olbrich, AIFF's executive director. "It's grown from an idea back in 2000 to a nationally recognized film festival."

AIFF is one of 30 U.S. festivals to receive grants last year from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"The timing combined with the grant from the academy makes it a very special year," says Olbrich.

The 2011 festival begins Thursday, April 7, and runs through Monday, April 11, with screenings at the Varsity Theatre, 166 E. Main St., and Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St.

A full festival schedule and film descriptions are available at www.ashlandfilm.org.

This year's attractions include visits from three-time Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Harry Shearer ("This Is Spinal Tap") and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock ("Super Size Me").

Shearer's 2010 documentary, "The Big Uneasy," will be presented at the festival, along with Spurlock's 2011 "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold." The two will be presented with AIFF's Rogue Awards.

Shearer, an actor and comedian known for his voice-overs on "The Simpsons" and appearances as a cast member of "Saturday Night Live," gives us an inside look at Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, his hometown. His lecture, "From Mockumentary to Documentary: A Conversation With Harry Shearer," will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 7, at the armory and include a question-and-answer session.

Spurlock's "The Greatest Movie Ever Sold" is an examination of product placement and advertising in films. His lecture, "The Greatest Movie Conversation Ever," will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the armory and also will field audience questions.

Lecture tickets cost $11 apiece, $10 for seniors and AIFF members and $6 for students with valid identification.

The festival will kick off Thursday with a sold-out Opening Night Bash at Ashland Springs Hotel, 212 E. Main St. The mixer gives visitors opportunities to meet the filmmakers. Also sold out is the festival's Awards Celebration Sunday at the armory.

Other festival events include the Filmmaker TALKback Forums, offering free, moderated discussions from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Ashland Springs Hotel. Filmmakers will discuss subjects such as characters, situations and locations not often found in mainstream cinema; how stories, plots and subjects are chosen for nonfiction filmmaking; and other cinematic endeavors.

AIFF's Locals Only programs will present documentaries and shorts either produced in Southern Oregon or made by local filmmakers. The programs also feature AIFF's Launch Regional Student Film Competition, an annual educational platform for young filmmakers.

The first block of Locals Only is set for 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the armory and includes eight short films; a second block is set for 3 p.m. Monday at the Varsity Theatre and includes "Two in a Million," a full-length documentary by Cici Brown of Ashland. She tells the story of David Marston and Robin Lawon, talented Ashland musicians whose lives were cut short by the same rare disease.

Admission to the Locals Only programs is free, but tickets are required because of limited seating.

Family Shorts, a collection of nine films geared for children, will be presented at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and 12:40 p.m. Sunday at the armory. The films are appropriate for ages 5 and older. Tickets cost $6.

Tickets for each festival screening cost $11, $10 for seniors and AIFF members and $6 for students with valid identification. Tickets are available through April 6 at the AIFF box office on the Ashland Plaza or at www.ashlandfilm.org. Box office hours are from 3 to 6 p.m. daily. During the festival, tickets will be available from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Varsity Theatre box office. Call 541-488-3823.